ABCF1 Regulates dsDNA-induced Immune Responses in Human Airway Epithelial Cells
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Background: The airway epithelium represents a critical component of the human lung that helps orchestrate defenses against respiratory tract viral infections, which are responsible for more than 2.5 million deaths/year globally. Innate immune activities of the airway epithelium rely on Toll-like receptors (TLRs), nucleotide binding and leucine-rich-repeat pyrin domain containing (NLRP) receptors, and cytosolic nucleic acid sensors. ATP Binding Cassette (ABC) transporters are ubiquitous across all three domains of life-Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya-and expressed in the human airway epithelium. ABCF1, a unique ABC family member that lacks a transmembrane domain, has been defined as a cytosolic nucleic acid sensor that regulates CXCL10, interferon-β expression, and downstream type I interferon responses. We tested the hypothesis that ABCF1 functions as a dsDNA nucleic acid sensor in human airway epithelial cells important in regulating antiviral responses. Methods: Expression and localization experiments were performed using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry in human lung tissue, while confirmatory transcript and protein expression was performed in human airway epithelial cells. Functional experiments were performed with siRNA methods in a human airway epithelial cell line. Complementary transcriptomic analyses were performed to explore the contributions of ABCF1 to gene expression patterns. Results: Using archived human lung and human airway epithelial cells, we confirm expression of ABCF1 gene and protein expression in these tissue samples, with a role for mediating CXCL10 production in response to dsDNA viral mimic challenge. Although, ABCF1 knockdown was associated with an attenuation of select genes involved in the antiviral responses, Gene Ontology analyses revealed a greater interaction of ABCF1 with TLR signaling suggesting a multifactorial role for ABCF1 in innate immunity in human airway epithelial cells. Conclusion: ABCF1 is a candidate cytosolic nucleic acid sensor and modulator of TLR signaling that is expressed at gene and protein levels in human airway epithelial cells. The precise level where ABCF1 protein functions to modulate immune responses to pathogens remains to be determined but is anticipated to involve IRF-3 and CXCL10 production.